What smells sexy? No doubt, we all differ when answering that question. Vanilla, apple pie and “sweets” in general (so often referenced as scents that drive men wild) make me feel like a kid again, hanging out in my grandmother’s kitchen waiting for dessert to come out of the oven. Lavender, Bay Rum and fougère fragrances remind me of sad Sundays and interminable church services. I love most florals, especially indolic ones — tuberose, jasmine, osmanthus, rose, heliotrope, linden, lily, lily of the valley, orange blossom, pinks, narcissus — but they never ignite bodily lust in me (though they make me, especially in winter, lust for florist shops, garden centers and specialty plant catalogs). Incense? Nah…too spiritual and “dry.”
Much sexier are: greens (galbanum) and hay (a wrestling match on the lawn or a strip-tease in the barn loft can be fun); cured tobacco (pre-burn, when its musky, post-tryst character throbs — give Santa Maria Novella Acqua di Cuba a try); vetiver, bitter orange and grapefruit (clean “sweat” aromas bringing to mind damp necks, armpits and…pardonnez-moi while I splash some cold water on my face).
Speaking of water, briny, driftwood and mineral scents of the seaside are sexy…ever licked someone who’s been swimming in salt water and then dried off in the hot sun? Nice! (Ozone notes, Calone? NO! You remind me of immature goofballs or douchebags.)
For serious aromatic sexiness, cumin (non-clean “sweat” for sure) trumps all other spices for me (ambrette and black pepper get honorable mentions). Sandalwood, cedar, cypress, juniper, gaiac and rosewood have always perked me up…head, heart and base. In the “I Don’t Know Why, But They Are Sexy” category are patchouli, marigold, immortelle, birch tar and myrrh. In reference, finally, to this week’s perfume, Memo Manoa,1 I give a big sexiness shout-out to voluptuary opoponax.
I first wore concentrated opoponax (sometimes written as opopanax) in a now-discontinued Comptoir Sud Pacifique perfume named, unimaginatively but aptly Opoponax (1992); its overall character reminds me of hot, moist skin, sloppy kisses, the scent of hair and…I’ll stop there for propriety’s sake.
Manoa starts off smelling like an elegant amber perfume (you’ve got your vanilla, you’ve got your labdanum, but with a dash of citrus juice). Quickly, silky, almost powdery, semi-smoky/semi-sweet opoponax resin comes to the fore, but with a musky, near-funky character (helped along by some cypress and bitter, overripe citrus peel). This being Memo PARIS, the proceedings only get to PG-13. I think of Manoa as a proper-but-not-prim opoponax perfume. Comptoir Sud Pacifique Opoponax is more overtly sexy-sultry with its slick/oily muskiness disheveling opoponax and igniting its naughty side. Still, I enjoy Manoa and recommend it, but it’s more “comforting” than carnal. If anyone knows of a big ole opoponax sex-monster fragrance that can replace my dwindling Comptoir Sud Pacifique Opoponax…do tell.
1. Listed notes of lemon, bergamot, ginger, cypress, iris, tonka bean, vanilla, opoponax, labdanum.
Note: top center image is Hairy chest [altered] by Giovanni Dall'Orto via Wikimedia Commons.